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UN rights chief stresses need for independent assessment in Tigray, Ethiopia

UN rights chief stresses need for independent assessment in Tigray, Ethiopia

7.03.2021 | Esther Chihaavi | U. Nairobi School of Law, KE MARCH 5, 2021 05:46:50 PM | 671

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Thursday stressed the need for an independent and objective assessment of reports of serious human rights violations in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The UN Human Rights Office received reports of the killing of eight protesters by security forces in Adigrat, Mekelle, Shire and Wukro, in the east of the northern region, between February 9 and 10. More than 136 cases of rape were also reported at the hospitals in the region.

“Deeply distressing reports of sexual and gender-based violence, extrajudicial killings, widespread destruction and looting of public and private property by all parties continue to be shared with us, as well as reports of continued fighting in central Tigray in particular,” Bachelet said. “Credible information also continues to emerge about serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict in Tigray in November last year.”

A preliminary assessment indicated that there are serious violations of international law that could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. These violations are said to have been possibly committed by the Ethiopia National Defence Forces, the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front, Eritrian Armed Forces and the Amhara regional Forces. Regarding this, Bachelet stated:

With multiple actors in the conflict, blanket denials and finger-pointing, there is a clear need for an objective, independent assessment of these reports – victims and survivors of these violations must not be denied their rights to the truth and to justice. We urge the Government of Ethiopia to grant my Office and other independent monitors access to the Tigray region, with a view to establishing the facts and contributing to accountability, regardless of the affiliation of perpetrators.

Bachelet did acknowledge the efforts by the government towards accountability and allowing access for humanitarian groups as expressed in press statements.

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